The Highest Authority in the Universe (Ephesians 1:21-22a)

21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22 And hath put all things under his feet,

Many years ago I was in the US Army. When I arrived for basic training, I was barely off the bus when I learned that my superiors were be treated with the utmost of respect and obeyed without question. In the Armed Forces authority is everything. The chain of command is clear, and everyone’s rank is prominently displayed on their uniform. If a General walks into the room, everyone comes to attention.

In these verses Paul talks about the chain of command of the universe, and most importantly, who is the Commander-in Chief.

If we go back a little to verse 20, we read that Jesus is at the right hand of God the Father in heaven. This is a place of honor and authority. In verse 21 Paul goes on the elaborate over whom exactly does Jesus rule. The words “far above” indicate that Jesus has the highest rank and position of power. Paul then uses four different words that refer to both earthly and heavenly (angelic and demonic) authorities: leaders, delegated authorities, powers, and lordships. Just in case there is any doubt that everyone is under Jesus’ rule, Paul adds “and every name that is named.” In other words, any name, or any title, that anyone may possibly receive, whatever it may be, is under Jesus’ authority. No exceptions.

But Paul isn’t finished. He writes that Jesus’ rule applies not only to the present age (“world”), but also to the future, when all things will be changed. There is no evading Jesus’ kingdom.

The term “put under his feet” is a military phrase. It means “to put a person in subjection under someone else.” The words “all things” are all-encompassing. They literally refer to everything. Nothing escapes being subject to Jesus.

It’s possible that after reading these verses the thought comes to mind, “This is all well and good, but I don’t see Christ’s rule on the earth.” Good point! The truth is, Jesus won’t establish a physical, visible kingdom until He returns to rule. Until then, the kingdom of God is a spiritual entity, focusing on the hearts of men and women. God is being patient, giving us the choice to submit to Him or not. But a day will come when Jesus’ authority will be visible to all, and as Paul writes in the letter to the Philippians, every knee will bow at the name of Jesus.

This leads me to two conclusions. First, it’s best to willingly submit to Christ’s authority now, while we are alive, than to be forced to later. There are only benefits to doing so now. Most of all, we are reconciled to God, who loves us and desires what’s best for us. But if we reject Him, the day will come when we will have to submit anyway, but there will be no more opportunity for reconciliation.

Secondly, knowing that Jesus is the highest authority in the universe brings me comfort. As His child, why should I ever fear?

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